Good Lawyer’s Wife, A (2003)

Im Sang-soo fashions a sexually-explicit drama about a disintegrating family that doesn’t quite work in a meaningful way, but its playful nature might prove charming for less demanding audiences. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Dir. Im Sang-soo
2003 | South Korea | Drama/Romance | 105 mins | 2.35:1 | Korean
R21 (passed clean) for sexual scenes

Cast: Moon So-Ri, Hwang Jung-min, Bong Tae-gyu
Plot: Bored, horny, and frustrated, a woman begins an affair with a teenage boy.
Awards: Nom. for Golden Lion (Venice)
Source: E Pictures

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Mature
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Oldham Theatre – Faces of the Korean Woman (Asian Film Archive)
Spoilers: No

This is my second Im Sang-soo film, but I still can’t really get into his brand of cinema, though this is certainly much better than his slick but ultimately disappointing 2010 remake of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 classic, The Housemaid

His third feature, A Good Lawyer’s Wife is as sexually-explicit, but it doesn’t really take itself seriously.  One might relish in its nonchalance toward extramarital sexual affairs, but Im also tries to say something about the meaninglessness of it all. 

The film’s playful tone is locked from the first scene as a man driving a car encounters a dead dog in the middle of the road, accompanied by a comical score. 

As the film draws out the disintegrating relationship between a lawyer and his wife, we curiously find that the latter in question, played by the terrific Moon So-ri, desires personal agency and sexual freedom. 

A subplot of an affair between her and a teenage boy may be provocative, but through sex, she might just come to terms with herself and find a way to move on. 

There are also some allusions to the legacy of the Korean War, but the entire film feels rather sketchy, and doesn’t quite work in a meaningful way. 

A Good Lawyer’s Wife might prove charming for less demanding audiences (or those who are into it for the copious amounts of nudity), but apart from a standout performance by Moon, there’s not much to shout about.

Grade: B-


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